Here’s this week’s newsletter:

Discovery is the number one issue bot makers told Facebook Messenger they wanted addressed, said Messenger engineering manager Mikhail Larionov. That’s certainly what VentureBeat has heard from bot developers, and now — a year after the launch of the Messenger Platform — Facebook has launched version 2.0 at its F8 conference. And it’s all about discovery.

The new Discover tab is designed to share popular and featured bots and includes sections for chat with human customer service agents from large businesses, as well as the Messenger accounts of nearby businesses.

Chat extensions can now bring bots into group settings to provide services in webview, however they do not talk or incorporate natural language understanding. Facebook is also testing the incorporation of in the suggested replies from intelligent assistant M. The Messenger bot drawer that has been used to feature roughly 20 bots since last year — but which malfunctioned in the weeks prior to F8 — also made its return with version 2.0.


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VentureBeat has been asking questions about discovery on Messenger since grumblings began last summer about the difficulty finding an audience for bots.

Former Facebook product manager Seth Rosenberg, who joined Greylock Ventures Wednesday, told VentureBeat he found Messenger Platform 2.0 refreshing in that it responded to a top demand from a community of tens of thousands of developers. I’m inclined to agree with him.

In AI at F8, Facebook open-sourced its Caffe2 deep learning framework, and CTO Mike Schroepfer talked about the social network’s AI strategy and argued in favor of bots that can answer questions like “Is there an organization close by that I can volunteer at?” or “Where is the best place to ride a bike in the Bay Area?” For a full recap, here’s everything Facebook announced at F8.

For AI and bots coverage, send news tips to Khari Johnson and guest post submissions to John Brandon. Please be sure to visit our AI Channel.

Thanks for reading,

Khari Johnson

Bots-AI Reporter

P.S. Please enjoy this video from the F8 session titled “Let’s Chat About Bots,” a panel discussion about bot building best practices with Hussein Fazal, CEO and cofounder of SnapTravel; Anastasia Sartan, maker of the Epytom Stylist bot for daily clothes recommendations; Felipe Bernal, head of product innovation at Movile (Chatclub); and Chema Alonso, head of digital at Telefonica.

Video link

From the AI Channel

Above: File uploading within Facebook’s Workplace product.

Image Credit: Facebook

Facebook’s Slack competitor opens the floodgates for bots

Facebook is releasing a host of updates for its enterprise team solution so users can adapt it into their workflow. The company announced today that it’s now supporting file-sharing, eDiscovery, and compliance; expanding its live video capabilities to include professional cameras; and perhaps most significantly, opening up the doors to third-party bot makers. Since officially launching in 2016, Workplace has targeted the business world, similar to Slack, Cisco Spark […]

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Above: Robot typing on fluorescent keyboard.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

The art of algorithms: How automation is affecting creativity

“Drawing on your phone or computer can be slow and difficult — so we created AutoDraw, a new web-based tool that pairs machine learning with drawings created by talented artists to help you draw,” wrote Google Creative Lab’s “creative technologist,” Dan Motzenbecker, earlier this week. AutoDraw is one of Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) experiments, working across platforms to let anyone, irrespective of their artistic flair, create something super quick with little more than a scribble. It guesses what you’re trying to draw, then […]

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Sales AI company Afiniti valued at $1.6 billion, files for IPO

You’ll be forgiven for not having heard of Afiniti, a Washington, D.C. company that may be the first pure-play artificial intelligence company to file for an IPO since the big AI hype wave hit last year. Afiniti uses AI to help companies more efficiently pair their sales people with customers, and boasts that it raises sales by an average of 4 to 6 percent. Since Afiniti started 11 years ago it has lain low, preferring to amass customers quietly rather than banging the PR drum.But now Afiniti’s about come under a spotlight. The company confidentially filed for an IPO late last year, VentureBeat has learned, and is valued at $1.6 billion […]

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Above: Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer talks about AI and bots during his keynote address April 19 at the City National Civic in San Jose, Calif.

Facebook CTO: Bots should be able to answer questions about your life

During a keynote speech at the second day of the annual Facebook developer conference F8, CTO Mike Schroepfer said bots need to answer more questions that are pertinent to people’s lives and the things they do everyday. “How do I connect with my community? Which friends should I reach out to? How do I find a club? How do I go volunteer? What should I do in my career? These are the human questions that matter, and bots are pretty far away from..” […]

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How AI finds big value in big data

Bots can augment human interaction, create greater business efficiencies, and remove friction from customer interactions. It’s a market that has already rolled up $24 billion in funding for companies at every stage, from startup to multinational. Industry leaders from IBM to Facebook are making big efforts to take advantage, spending significant resources to […]

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Beyond VB

AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals

Machine learning algorithms are picking up deeply ingrained race and gender prejudices concealed within the patterns of language use, scientists say (via The Guardian)

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Courts are using AI to sentence criminals. That must stop now

There is a stretch of highway through the Ozark Mountains where being data-driven is a hazard. Heading from Springfield, Missouri, to Clarksville, Arkansas, navigation apps recommend the Arkansas 43. While this can be the fastest route, the GPS’s algorithm does not concern itself with factors important to truckers carrying a heavy load, such as the 43’s 1,300-foot elevation drop over four miles with two sharp turns. The road once hosted few 18-wheelers, but the last two and half years […] (via Wired)

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AI can predict heart attacks more accurately than doctors

This machine learning algorithm beats ACC/AHA guidelines by 7.6 percent (via Engadget)

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Neural networks made easy

If you’ve dug into any articles on artificial intelligence, you’ve almost certainly run into the term “neural network.” Modeled loosely on the human brain, artificial neural networks enable computers to learn from being fed data. The efficacy of this powerful branch of machine learning, more than anything else, has been […] (via TechCrunch)

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